December 2012

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December 2012

News & Notices

In Memoriam: Katherine Ann Brants

Katherine Ann Brants

Katherine Ann McDaniel Brants, retired dancer, costumer, and administrator for Protech Theatrical Services and the former Hoffend & Sons rigging company, died October 29, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 81.

A former professional dancer in New York, Katherine made her “grand entrance into the world of back-stage performance rigging during the renovation of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas” after the fire of 1980, recalls Jack Hoffend of InterAmerica Stage Inc. in Sanford, Florida.

Jack’s father, Don Hoffend Sr., “recognized her extraordinary talents” on that project and asked her to move to Victor, New York, to help run Hoffend & Sons, Jack said. (Hoffend & Sons pioneered the patented Vortek rigging system and was bought by Daktronics, Inc. in 2006).

Katherine was a popular figure in the theatre industry, with a vivacious personality and sense of humor. A famous quote was, “Tomorrow I’m wearing my work boots and jeans,” said whenever she faced a challenge. She was known for always being dressed to the nines and once competed in the Miss Senior Nevada beauty contest.

Her example inspired her son, Will Brants, who also worked for Hoffend, to form Protech Theatrical Services in North Las Vegas in 1988. Nearly everyone in her extended family continues to work in the theatre industry.

Katherine worked for Protech from 1989 to 2001 as contract administrator, head seamstress, and founder of the drapery division. In 1993 she founded Prima Stage Draperies, a drapery shop with 7 employees in Las Vegas, while performing costume work on the side.

USITT was a passion of hers, especially spending time with her favorite Fellows: Ed Peterson, Theatre Consultant George Howard, and rigging expert Jack Suesse, who all predeceased her.

Her love for USITT was inspired by her desire to grow a passion for the theatre industry in young people, Will said. She donated thousands of dollars in charity work, crafting curtains and draperies for underfunded school theatre programs.

Katherine served on the Conference Committee for USITT’s 1995 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Las Vegas, and “looked forward to every USITT conference she could attend,” until Parkinson’s Disease slowed her down in recent years, said a friend, Robert Watson of Themeing Solutions in Las Vegas.

Her kindness extended far beyond the stage; she always had an open door for stray and unwanted animals, and for a time owned a horse boarding business.

“She had a great career, but at the same time loved her children and grandchildren so much,” wrote George Jacobstein and Tom Coulouris of Rose Brand Stage Fabrics. “May the memories of Katherine live on for eternity.”

Her son Will said her life was an inspiration to many. “If we could all accomplish half the things she has done in her life, the world would be a brighter place,” he said.